Chinese firm building USD15B refinery complex offshore

MOSCOW (MRC) -- On a tiny island off Brunei's northern tip on the South China Sea, thousands of Chinese workers are building a refinery and petrochemical complex, along with a bridge connecting it to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

When completed, the first phase of the USD3.4 billion complex on Muara Besar island, run by China's Hengyi Group, will be Brunei's largest-ever foreign investment project, and comes at a time when the oil-dependent country needs it the most.

Brunei’s oil and gas reserves are expected to run out within two decades. As production falls, oil firms won't be investing much into existing facilities, further hampering output, oil analysts say. As a result, the country’s oil revenues, which provide virtually all of Brunei’s government spending, are in steady decline.

With youth unemployment rising, Brunei's ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is trying to quickly reform the economy and diversify its sources of income, while fighting graft and cracking down on dissent.

Brunei's changing fortunes have been reflected in its financial industry. HSBC pulled out of Brunei last year, while Citibank exited in 2014 after 41 years. Bank of China, meanwhile, opened its first branch in the sultanate in December 2016.

The Muara Besar project is promising over 10,000 jobs, at least half of which would go to fresh graduates, media reports in Brunei said. But claims that thousands of Chinese workers have been shipped in to build the complex has angered some local residents.

Hengyi Industries, the local company building the refinery, did not respond to requests for comment. The company, founded in 2011 and based in Bandar Seri Begawan, expects to complete the first phase of the refinery and petrochemical complex on Muara Besar by the end of the year, according to its website.

A USD12 billion second phase will expand the refinery capacity to 281,150 barrels per day, and build units to produce 1.5 MMtpy of ethylene and 2 MMtpy of paraxylene, the company said last month.

Total Chinese investment in Brunei is now estimated at USD4.1 billion, according to the American Enterprise Institute's China Global investment tracker.

That will almost certainly rise as China ramps its "Belt and Road" initiative. Sometimes called the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road, it envisages linking China with Southeast Asia, Africa and Eurasia through a complex network of ports, roads, railways and industrial parks.

"Brunei is an important country along the 21st century Maritime Silk Road," China's Ambassador to Brunei Yang Jian said at the opening ceremony in February 2017 for a joint venture, running Brunei's largest container terminal.

BASF and Farsoon roll-out PA6 material for 3D printing in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global chemical company BASF has teamed-up with technology company Farsoon to roll-out the new PA6 material solution for the 3D printing industry in China, as per Chemicals-technology.

The BASF Ultrasint PA6 X043 Black will enable manufacturers to produce components with optimised shapes and lesser weight that can also endure harsh environment conditions. Farsoon founder and chairman Dr Xu Xiao Shu said: "This new breakthrough in 3D printing materials makes direct manufacturing possible, which further accelerates the industrialisation of 3D printing in China.

"In the future, Farsoon will continue to work closely with BASF to help customers enhance their equipment and material performance, while reducing production costs. We aim to offer customers a true additive manufacturing solution."

"BASF is dedicated to developing high-performance 3D printing materials such as the Ultrasint PA6 series."
BASF noted that the new material will generate new possibilities for various industries such as aerospace, automotive and consumer.

Along with Farsoon’s new continuous additive manufacturing solutions (CAMS), including HT1001P, HT252P, ST252P, and HT403P, BASF’s Ultrasint PA6 X043 Black can help customers to develop performance components and increase productivity.

BASF 3D-Printing Asia-Pacific senior business development manager Michael Tang said: “BASF is dedicated to developing high-performance 3D printing materials like the Ultrasint PA6 series.

"We provide an open platform by working with our partners, such as Farsoon, to develop competitive 3D printing material solutions to realise future customer needs for mass production."

At TCT Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China, BASF will showcase its new line of Ultrasint PA6 X043 Black material, along with the polymer powder bed fusion, made with the Farsoon’s CAMS technology.

Covestro continues growth path – innovation and sustainability as growth drivers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Covestro had an outstanding fiscal year 2017. Driven by a high demand for high-performance plastics and significantly higher margins, Covestro increased Group sales over the past fiscal year and net income more than doubled, as per GV.

"Compared with our first year as an independent company, we have once again clearly improved and demonstrated that our success is sustainable", said CEO Patrick Thomas.

For 2018, Covestro expects solid growth in the main customer industries including the automotive, furniture, construction, and electrical and electronics industries. Within these industries, Covestro considers in particular the social trend toward greater sustainability as a driver of growth. "In more and more industries, customers are increasingly looking for sustainable solutions and that is exactly what we offer," said Patrick Thomas. He further mentioned areas of growth such as e-mobility, energy-efficient construction and energy-saving LED lamps.

True to Covestro’s purpose to make the world a brighter place, sustainability has always been firmly anchored in its strategy. In addition to this commitment, Covestro has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations in its strategy. "Sustainability is and remains a key driver of innovation,” explained Dr. Markus Steilemann, Chief Commercial Officer and future CEO of Covestro. “By 2025, we want to spend 80 % of our research and development expenditure in areas that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals."

Steilemann considers digitalization as a further driver of innovation: "With our comprehensive program, we are taking advantage of the opportunities that digitalization provides, making it a key focus in our company. As part of this focus, we will set new standards of collaboration with our customers." An example of this is a soon-to-be-launched digital marketplace that will simplify access to basic products and connect customers with Covestro and other providers. By the end of 2019, new digital business models such as the digital marketplace are expected to generate cumulative sales of up to one billion euros.

In the Polyurethanes segment, Covestro increased its core volumes over the previous year in all three regions – an overall increase of 3.4 %. Meanwhile, EBITDA rose by 151.1 % to EUR 2,212 million. This growth was primarily the result of significant improvements in margins in the MDI and TDI product groups. Moreover, the increased sales volume, gains from the sale of a systems house in North America, and an insurance reimbursement all had a positive effect. Furthermore, the decision to continue production in Tarragona (Spain) led to a reversal of provisions.

Core volumes in the Polycarbonates segment rose by 5.0 %. Here, too, all three regions contributed to growth. This segment’s EBITDA rose 21.2 % to EUR 853 million. Higher core volumes and increased selling prices had a positive effect on earnings, while sales were mainly driven by increased demand in the automotive, and electrical and electronics industries.

In 2017 as a whole, core volumes in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties segment saw virtually no change (-0.3%) amidst a challenging competitive environment. EBITDA was down 9.4 % from the previous year’s figure, dropping to EUR 453 million. Increased selling prices on average were not able to fully offset the higher cost of goods sold.

Meanwhile, expanded production of polyurethane dispersions commenced in Dormagen (Germany) and Barcelona (Spain) to meet the increasing demand from the coatings and adhesive industry. Covestro also began operations at a new production facility in Dormagen for high-quality, multi-layer flat films used in security cards or automotive interiors.

As MRC informed before, on 1 September, 2015, Bayer MaterialScience became known as Covestro. The plans for the carve-out of Bayer MaterialScience were announced in September 2014.

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc.

European PVC prices increase for CIS markets in March despite decrease in ethylene price

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Negotiations on prices of European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for March shipments to the CIS countries started last week. With the decrease in the cost of ethylene, European producers on the contrary have increased export PVC prices this month, according to the ICIS-MRC Price Report.

The March contract price of ethylene was agreed up by EUR20/tonne from February, which presupposes the decrease in PVC production costs by, at least, EUR10/tonne. Nevertheless, despite the decline in the prices of the feedstock, many European producers announced an increase in export prices for supplies to CIS markets by EUR10-25/tonne.

Demand for PVC from main consumers is still quite low due to the seasonal factor, while European producers do not activate their sales in this direction for the past two months. One of the producers has deliberately kept the higher price level since February to limit or completely cut off their sales to the CIS.

Negotiations on March deliveries of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) for the CIS markets were done in the range of EUR750-810/tonne FCA, while the February deals were done in the range of EUR725-800/tonne FCA. One of the producers has kept prices since February at the level of EUR850-870/tonne FCA, but no deals were reported at such prices.

Arlanxeo launches Keltan KSA EPDM rubbers produced in Saudi Arabia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arlanxeo has signed an agreement with Saudi Aramco Products Trading company, headquartered in Dhahran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, pertaining to the marketing and sales of EPDM rubber, reported GV.

Arlanxeo will start to supply the new EPDM grades within the first half of 2018 under its own Keltan trademark with the extension KSA, that represents the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The EPDM Keltan KSA grades will be produced in Rabigh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The EPDM plant in Rabigh is part of a fully integrated chemical complex which operates under the name Petro Rabigh with Saudi Aramco as a shareholder.

"Saudi Aramco Products Trading Company is pleased to partner with Arlanxeo to introduce Keltan KSA, a combination of Petro Rabigh manufacturing strength and Arlanxeo’s global market expertise. This partnership between Saudi Aramco Products Trading Company and Arlanxeo will leverage the highest value for all stakeholders." underlines Muhammad Al-Arfaj, Vice President of Saudi Aramco Products Trading Company.

Christian Widdershoven, member of Arlanxeo’s executive board and Head of the High Performance Elastomers division highlights Through this agreement, we are further strengthening Arlanxeo’s position as the global supplier for synthetic rubbers in the world market."

As MRC informed before, in September 2017, Arlanxeo announced the expansion of applications development capability for adhesive production and testing by continually improving its methods, among other means. Current innovations in this area include endurance tests, so-called tensile tests, as well as different procedures for the production of adhesives and for the determination of the processing time. With these new application technologies, Arlanxeo can now support its customers with technical challenges in an even better, more efficient manner.

Arlanxeo was established in April 2016 as a joint venture of Lanxess - a world-leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany - and Saudi Aramco - a major global energy and chemicals enterprise headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The two partners each hold a 50-percent interest in the joint venture. The business operations of ARLANXEO are assigned to the High Performance Elastomers and Tire & Specialty Rubbers business units.